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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Problems solved as voting unfolds

Advertiser Staff

Election workers at Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki place ballots in boxes. Jefferson Elementary was one of the busiest voting places on O'ahu yesterday, with 415 voters counted by 1:30 p.m.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Several problems surfaced at statewide polling places in yesterday's general election, but there were fewer volunteer shortages and other glitches that made for a frantic September primary election on O'ahu.

A statewide summary of votes issued at 1:30 this morning indicated a preliminary turnout of 348,299 or 52.6 percent of the state's 662,728 registered voters.

State elections officials this morning will try to track down two electronic ballot counting devices from polling places at Moanalua High School and Pacific Island Bible Church on O'ahu before coming up with a final vote count from last night's general election.

Elections workers early this morning were also duplicating about 100 ballots that were damaged or could not be read by electronic counting machines, said Rex Quidilla, spokesman for the State Office of Elections.

All O'ahu precincts closed by about 7:15 p.m., state election officials reported, after problems kept as many as 40 precincts open past the 6 p.m. deadline.

Some precincts ran out of ballots and several more were running low as the polls were scheduled to close.

The last precinct on O'ahu to close was Waipahu District Park, which shut its doors at 7:13 p.m.

The delays were caused when several precincts still had voters waiting in line at the scheduled 6 p.m. closing time, Quidilla said.

State law requires that anyone in line before 6 p.m. be allowed to vote.

At Manana Elementary School, precinct workers ran out of ballots at 5:45 p.m. with 40 to 50 people still in line to vote.

Precinct officials directed voters to electronic voting machines, he said. "Voting did not stop. It may have slowed the line a little bit, but it did allow voting to continue," Quidilla said.

Martin Kamealoha, of Papakolea, was the last voter at the Roosevelt High School precinct, where doors closed promptly at 6 p.m. He stuck around until about 6:30 p.m. to independently observe ballots being gathered by poll workers.

"They wanted me to just verify what they were doing," Kamealoha said.

Overall, Quidilla said the day went fairly smoothly. "It went very well when you consider we have 353 polling places statewide," Quidilla said. "We identified six precincts, all in Honolulu, that had difficulties opening up. That is a fairly good day."

Neighbor Island voters in most areas didn't have to wait long to cast their ballots — aside from isolated busy periods, voting was light and steady, county elections officials said.

Tanya and Chris Gamby of Kaua'i said they were particularly concerned about environmental issues, but they were also eager to introduce their young son Zeke to the election process.

"We told him this is where we vote for people who make the rules. He said, 'You mean like not hitting my sister?' " Chris Gamby said.

Officials in Kaua'i and Maui counties reported no major problems. On the Big Island, some candidates' supporters were campaigning too near to polling sites and were ordered to keep their distance.

Staff writers David Waite, Gordon Pang, Jan TenBruggencate, Dan Nakaso and Caryn Kunz and online staffer Scott Morifuji, contributed to this report.